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Health anxiety in pregnancy - Help please?

(25 Posts)
joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 02:00:31

It's the middle of the night and I am having a mild panic attack. Unsure of what to do with myself, I am seeking help here...

I have a history of health anxiety since losing my dad almost five years ago to cancer, then having 3 miscarriages, complications, 3 lots of surgeries etc.

I have spent a lot of time (and quite a bit of money- no NHS where I live) to seek help and have been much better in the last year or so. Got pregnant unexpectedly (completely unplanned, was on contraception) in April and I
M now 19 weeks. Managed to deal well with the first trimester,was fairly laid back (for me) and with the help if my gynaecologist who offered me weekly/bi-weekly scans made it into the second one quite happily.

In the last couple of weeks I have started worrying myself sick. First it was my cervix, for which I have indications, because of several D&Cs and surgeries that it might be incompetent. I have had it checked, it seems to be behaving, I keep having it checked.

Last week I started worrying about preeclampsia, then this week it is whether I am leaking amniotic fluid.... At times I am fine, at others I am completely consumed by fear if losing this baby. I feel responsible for keeping him alive and I know that at this stage in pregnancy there's not much they can do if something does go horribly wrong...

I find it really hard to sleep through the night and enjoy my life, but only some of the time. I feel guilty for being "absent-minded" and not quite all there with my DS and I feel it's not fair on him. But most of all I am really, really scared that something really is wrong and I will have to deliver my baby early only for it to die...

I know the thoughts can be intrusive, usually linked to a symptom, like today, increased discharge. My gynaecologist must be sick of me and I feel embarrassed to call him now... Do I pull myself together and battle on, do I share my concerns with him? How do I keep going???

Thanks for reading.

Littlef00t Wed 03-Sep-14 02:24:32

Hi I'm awake too! I'd mention it to your gyne so he's aware that your stressed, that's medical so relevant, but ask if there's a course or something you could do to help you learn ways to control your anxiety? Eg CBT? Or a dedicated counsellor?

I'm sorry you're so anxious, it's very understandable but I'm sure there are things you can do to mitigate it, like with the scans.

CustardFromATin Wed 03-Sep-14 02:56:10

You mentioned that some help allowed you to get a lot better before. Are you still in touch with your counsellor/psych from that period? At this stage it sounds like your gynaecologist is excellent but you might need more of a support team, to make sure you are getting the help you need for the anxiety as well as the pregnancy.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, and all your work so far, hope things improve as times go on an especially as you get to the big 24 week mark smilethanks

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 04:56:38

Thank you so much for the advice (even in the middle of the night!!)

I will try and talk to my gynae, and explain my difficulties further - part of the problem is that I feel embarrased now to go with my worries to him. Nothing he has done or said but I feel once a week is too much...

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 04:56:39

Thank you so much for the advice (even in the middle of the night!!)

I will try and talk to my gynae, and explain my difficulties further - part of the problem is that I feel embarrased now to go with my worries to him. Nothing he has done or said but I feel once a week is too much...

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 05:02:39

Sorry did not finish posting, stupid phone...

I will also try and find some psych support - though really feel I can't afford it, what with the prenatal checks, which are costing us a lot.

My worry is (ha!) that just because I am paranoid it doesn't mean there is nothing wrong, iyswim. I am scared that while I am trying to sort out my mind I might miss an important "sign" of something being wrong. I guess I do trust my doctor, but cannot see him once a week to check all is ok for the rest of my pregnancy... And the internet does not help (apart from mumsnet which does and thank you both littlefoot and custard for the middle of the night posts)!

Surfsup1 Wed 03-Sep-14 05:05:45

It might help if you could build a little team around you so that you don't have to always go to your gynea when you're confident that the feelings are anxiety related? A good counsellor, your GP, a psychologist, a natropath or nutritionist, an understanding friend of relative - find a gang of people you can call on to help you get through.

Surfsup1 Wed 03-Sep-14 05:08:18

Ah, sorry, crossed posts.
Maybe there is a support group you could join which might be less expensive than seeing a psychologist individually?
Your GP should also be able to help you with some concerns and tell you if you need to go and see your gynea?

rootypig Wed 03-Sep-14 05:12:44

I don't have time to write much so will be brief, but please don't think I am unsympathetic. After family illness and my own health problems I developed panic attacks and was nervous in my pregnancy too. Good news is anxiety (as opposed to depression) responds well and often straightforwardly to a few techniques. First is CBT - there are resources online, look about, and if you pursue a course of treatment it can be effective after a short time. Second is meditation. Ever tried it? If you're open to the idea, I would recommend Pema Chodron's books and resources as a place to start. Start Where You Are and The Places That Scare You would both be good. She is well known and her books are widely available. Unlike CBT, her ideas will help you to process the many traumas you've experienced, and the grief of losing your dad, too. CBT is more like reins for your mind, to help you stay in control at moments of rising panic (or to avoid getting there).

Re paranoia and there being something wrong - you will be better attuned to your body once your anxiety is under control. Anxiety is like desperately hunting in the bottom of your bag for a piece of rice that may have dropped in there....while standing in the middle of the road. It obscures what is important.

Hugs. This could be an amazing turning point after all you've been through.

rootypig Wed 03-Sep-14 05:13:10

Ha that ended up being long smile

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 05:25:40

Oh my goodness! The support here has me in tears (though could be hormones too)!! The analogy rootypig of the grain of rice is exactly spot on! I don't even know what's pain or not anymore and everything is amplified!

Meditation: yes, have tried and it really does help. Only thing that gets me through the day, will definitely try the books you suggested!

surfsup you are right about a team approach - though not being in the uk all of these people will have to be paid professionals. Even if I want to see a GP I'd have to pay. Maybe a midwife would be good, so I can share the load of worrisome questions. I will look into a counsellor/psych help too, though my old one has moved too far for me to go visit.

I feel like I have failed, sas I really thought my life had changed and I had regained control of my anxiety after many years. I had been panic free since Xmas and coped well with the very stressful first trimester after 3 miscarriages. Yet now it has all resurfaced and with a vengeance. I do hope it gets better as I get past the viability point and can breathe a sigh...

Surfsup1 Wed 03-Sep-14 05:28:35

Where abouts are you Joe?
It's worth finding out what low-cost services are available. Given Rootypig's advice, you might find that spending that bit extra to get some help could be really wrth it!?

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 06:01:42

I'm in Greece andnot really sure how services work here. I will ask around my local expat community, as well as some local friends who might know the system better.

Surfsup1 Wed 03-Sep-14 06:40:39

Maybe ask on the Living Overseas forum?

Surfsup1 Wed 03-Sep-14 06:47:35

Or maybe yo could Skype with someone in the UK?

mrsnec Wed 03-Sep-14 07:13:16

Hi Op, I'm 36 weeks pg. Expat in Cyprus with previous losses and anxiety. Feel free to pm me if I can help you with anything. The system here might be similar and I've found it very difficult to get my head around!

Don't feel like you failed. I think it's a cultural thing that anxiety just isn't understood. Here it's a bit of a put up and shut up type approach.

I have monthly appointments at the local general hospital. We have to pay and can't afford to go totally private. Every appointment I've had at the general has been with a different doctor who has given me something else to worry about. I have been having my extra scans and tests at the local private hospital. I get results straight away and second opinions and they have staff who have worked in the UK and understand me more so I got more reassurance there instead of the shoulder shrugging. I was considering paying for therapy but I feel the money was better spent getting the reassurance from the private clinic. I found an English specialist neo natal radiologist and had an extra anomaly scan at 22 weeks. It was the best 120e I've ever spent.

My friend here is a doula but doesn't speak greek and isn't familiar with the system. I can't see that helping unless you can find one who knows the system inside out. The expat community is a great place to get help. I've joined the local expat parents network and speak to as many mums as I can. I met one at a do at the weekend and she said if she was to have another she'd do exactly what I was doing.

I still think the main problem here is unlike the uk I have no point of contact. I guess I have just accepted that.

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 07:24:18

mrsnec it does all sound very similar... although I do have a point of contact in my gynae, trained in the UK (and feel embarrassed to keep contacting him...)
I too have gone out of prescribed care from state hospitals, as I felt I needed more. It is an expensive process but feel it's worth it.
btw Congratulations on getting to 36 weeks and all the best for the next step and a healthy, happy baby soon!

In regards to my current worry re amniotic fluid, I am not sure what to do - whether tp pursue it as a real worry, or to just pop it in the back of my mind as simply another symptom of my anxiety...

squizita Wed 03-Sep-14 07:32:55

I have similar health anxiety. Re the cervix thing - ERPCs/D&Cs don't just weaken the cervix like that.
I say this as a fellow recurrent miscarrier. Some women have issues but unless you have been diagnosed, ignore that causality.

Apart from that all I can say is to agree with everything PP have said.

My anxiety is well managed now with CBT, hypnotherapy and yoga of all things! I really cannot imagine such simple things working but they seem to.

I hope you find something that works for you.

mrsnec Wed 03-Sep-14 07:42:45

I think you should take advantage of that then re the gynae and not feel embarrassed to keep contacting him.Easier said than done I know.The amniotic fluid issue l can understand. But there are other things it could be so I'd just keep an eye on it.

It's hard here. I was recommended a gynae to go an see privately but they do work in both here and she turned out to be the one that dealt with my mc in the general and was awful. It's very difficult to find someone who gets you. I think you just have to find it and stick to it.

Trouble is, our general hospital has more modern facilities than the private one and they refer cases from the private one to the general anyway so I'm better off having the baby there. Supplementing the state care is the answer. We have village gps too but they just refer straight to the general anyway too.

The suggestion of skyping someone is a good one. And congrats to you too!

LBNM19 Wed 03-Sep-14 08:07:56

Hi, I also suffer from health anxiety, it developed again during this pregnancy so I no exactly how you feel, after finding a lump in my breast I convinced myself i had breast cancer and it escalated badly from there. I had very intrusive thoughts constantly all day. I was in a & e or at the doctors everyday. I tried to keep it a secret and thought I could get better myself but I made it worse. I ended up under a mental health team, prenatal psychiatrist, specialist midwife had CBT and on setraline. This happend when I was around 15 weeks I'm 33 weeks pregnant now.

Please explain how your feeling and your reasons for the phone calls etc and see how he can help from there. Xx

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 12:28:09

Thank you LBNM19 and congratulations on getting so far. How did it go after the mental health intervention at 15 weeks - do you feel they helped?

I actually feel like I gave in... and called my doctor who was very understanding and will see me this afternoon. I feel guilty at going again (I was only seen last week) but I feel thats the only thing, right now, that will put my mind at rest...

I also spoke to a psychiatrist a friend recommended. She could not see me until Friday, but spoke to me for a while on the phone and urged me to not seek help from a dr but "battle with my demons". Of course, I've gone and done just the opposite...

joeschmoesmum Wed 03-Sep-14 17:37:20

UPDATE- went to the gynae who did some tests (no strip test - he said he feels they give too many positives and they are not reliable). He looked at my cervix, closed and 4cm long (great) and looked at my amniotic fluid. By sight he said it looked good, when measured it was low, but within the normal range (15%centile, AFI 10 for those who know...) While looking at my cervix he asked me to cough, no fluid escaped.
He seemed happy, though he wants to see me again. He was lovely and told me that I can call him whenever I need to if I am concerned.

I also spoke to my osychologist - she specialises in prenatal losses which is why I went to her before, after my three miscarriages. She was lovely and I will be seeing her on Friday, but she has suggested I get a referral through the public system to the Women's Psychiatric Hospital, who have a special prenatal unit. They can then prescribe if I need medication or simply help me. I feel happy with that.

Although anxiety has not disappeared altogether it has reduced to a reasonable amount (though not sure how I will sleep tonight). I am worried about potentially leaking fluid (hence the lower amounts of amniotic fluid) but can only wait and see...

mrsnec Wed 03-Sep-14 18:18:54

try and get some rest tonight op but I'd say that all sounds very positive.

Droflove Fri 05-Sep-14 10:22:23

Probably won't help as you are particularly anxious but when I used to feel worried about something going wrong I used to look at a train carriage jammed with poor or a crowd on TV or all the people passing in the street and think 'look at all those millions of people who arrived safely'. It used to calm me down.

Droflove Fri 05-Sep-14 10:22:46

Poor= people!

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